A Lesson in Disappointment: Black Pistol Fire ditched us, and those sad feelings will linger

By on November 29, 2017

Before we get into this week’s discussion of band names, I’m going to need you to put down your torch for a moment. I know you’re upset with me. I lied to you, after all. I didn’t mean to, honestly, and I meant every word about why you should go check out Black Pistol Fire. Then they cancelled and you learned a very important lesson about disappointment. Better to learn how to put on a brave face now so you’ll be all set for Christmas. You’re welcome.

I’ll confess that part of me is happy things turned out this way. Yes, it is a bummer you took my sage wisdom to heart only to be let down by the cruel winds of fate, but having the chance to bring up Black Pistol Fire again works quite nicely for discussing something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: the importance of band names.

Consider Black Pistol Fire. With only the knowledge of their name, what would you expect them to sound like? It took me a long time to give them a chance because I’ve always assume they were either a bad throwback hair band at best or below average butt rock at worst. The type of band that ends up sharing a bill with Pop Evil and/or Puddle of Mudd. That they’re somewhere closer to Death From Above — bonus opinion: taking the 1975 out of their name was a bad call — was a pleasant surprise.

It’s not that Black Pistol Fire is an inherently bad name, it’s just one that can distance a promising band from listeners who are prone to prejudgement or have a problem with America’s love of all things gun culture. We all have our reasons for rolling our eyes at a band name, which is why picking the right one is so important.

A band name has to do so much. It has to look appealing on a marquee. It has to be unique enough not to be forgotten. It has look good on a shirt. It has to be something you’re not afraid to own when you talk about it. If the first thing you do when you mention it to someone is look away or feel embarrassed, you’ve picked a bad name.

You also have to be prepared to talk about your band name at the drop of the hat, because as long as there are reporters out there looking for easy quotes, there will be someone who wants to know the origin story of your band name. I’d tell you to make sure you include that story in your press bio, and you might as well because that’ll help pad the length, but the only person who will ever read the entire thing are your family members to see if they got a shout out for supporting you even when you were just a goober in the garage. Spoiler alert: the first thing anyone wanting to know about your backstory does is go to Wikipedia.

Elephant Revival, who are playing a free show in Laramie tonight, have a solid band name origin story. It has to do with pachyderms and deaths and separation, the kind of story that you’d hear on NPR and feel bummed out for a few hours after. It’s also a pretty good name for a band featuring dudes in silly hats and a washboard player.

What the members of Elephant Revival probably didn’t predict was that their name would suddenly sound so relevant in 2017. For the broad majority of Americans, elephants are things they only see in zoos and on Reddit, which means they don’t really think about them all that much. Then along comes 2017 political controversy #414111123: Trump and elephant trophies. The “complex” story made simple is this: dudes with guns are super mad they can’t bring back their dead elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, because what good is a dead elephant if you can’t nail part of it to a wall and point to it when company comes over?

Just like that, we’re all thinking and talking and tweeting about elephants in 2017. And along comes Elephant Revival, bringing free music to the state, and you’re like, “what are the odds?” Math isn’t my jam, so I can’t tell you the odds, but I agree that it’s pretty wild.

Sadly, Big Gigantic, who are over at the Pink Garter on the 6th – which at the time of this typing is an absolutely true statement and not a lie told by a music writer hellbent on getting you to make impossible plans — are just outside of this week’s coverage, which means we can’t play the “[regular adjective] [fancy adjective]” game in this week’s column, which easily could have take up 250 words at least. But you got to learn about disappointment and band names and recent controversies about elephants. Life is weird. Go to more shows. PJH

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